5 Worst The Ordinary Skincare Products for Sensitive Skin

Whether you are a skincare lover or not, it’s very unlikely that you have never heard about the ordinary (TO) skincare products or their good reviews. The brand is popular for its unique active skincare products. But how much the products are safe for sensitive or rosacea skin, that is a question many ask. So, today I am going to talk about 5 of the ordinary skincare products which are damaging for sensitive skin.

So if you are someone who suffers from sensitive skin, redness or rosacea and you googled whether the ordinary products are for rosacea or not, yes this is the ordinary product guide you were looking for (thank me later!). I have been suffering from sensitive skin for a long time so I know your pain.

However, before I start the ordinary product guide, I want to clarify. Some of the TO products are really good. And I am a consumer too. Just cause I am telling you to avoid certain products, doesn’t mean I hate the brand. Think of this article as the ordinary product guide which will help you to understand better so that you can decide for yourself.

#1 the ordinary skincare product to avoid if you have sensitive skin: AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

Shocked much?

This peeling solution from TO has been trending in every social media for many days. It became so popular that people started referring it to Kim Kardashian’s “vampire facial“.

No, the peeling solution from TO is not made of blood if that’s what you are thinking. But this ordinary product is as harmful as the vampire facial for rosacea or sensitive skin. If you are already not scared of its blood-red color, I can give you actual reasons to be.

the ordinary skincare for sensitive skin: this peeling solution can be harsh for rosacea or sensitive skin
The blood-red peeling solution from TO is not only scary looking but also damaging to sensitive skin.

To be honest, if you ask me which of the ordinary products are the worst for rosacea or sensitive skin? I will put this 30% AHAs + 2% BHAs peeling solution in the first place.

Now coming to the facts: the peeling solution has 30% AHAs.

If you are new to this skincare lingo, Alpha Hydroxy Acids or AHAs are exfoliating agents. These acids are very popular to get rid of old dead cells. AHAs work by weakening the bond between the dead cells. As a result, the dead cells are shredded and you get glowing skin, almost instantly.

Hey, that is a good thing, right? Not always.

There several types of AHAs are available at the market right now. Starting from 1% to 20% sometimes. The most common ones are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid.

If you look into the ingredient list of TO peeling solution, you can see it has 30% AHAs: a combination of glycolic acid + lactic + tartaric + citric acid in it. As a rule of thumb, sensitive skins should always avoid AHAs at any cost. Because even though they give a brightening and toning effect, AHAs can cause irritation to skins which are reactive.

And in this peeling solution the ordinary used 30% AHAs. That too a combination of 4 acids, which is way too strong for someone who suffers from skin irritation or rosacea.

On top of that, they have added 2% BHA or salicylic acid as well. Combining two different types of acids can be super damaging to sensitive skin. Yes, maybe for some of you it will work initially. But trust me this peeling mask is nothing but an acid pool and that is why you have to ignore this if you do not want any long term damage to your skin.

#2 ordinary product to avoid if you have sensitive skin: Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

There has always been quite a debate about whether you should use a toner or not. But if you are someone who believes in toner and has sensitive skin: always look for toners that are gentle, alcohol-free and hydrating.

A hydrating toner not only makes your sensitive skin plumped but also balances your skin’s pH so that other products can easily sink into the skin.

Unfortunately these requirements for a good toner are not met by this 7% glycolic acid toning solution from TO.

the ordinary skincare for sensitive skin: this the ordinary skincare products guide says to ignore this product of 7% glycolic acid if you have rosacea or sensitive skin

This toner from TO uses glycolic acid as the active ingredient which has always been the eye candy of every skincare brand cause it works instantly.

But the downside of using glycolic acid is its molecular size is so small that it penetrates into skin very easily. Think of glycolic acid like a small ping pong ball that can pass through any tiny space. As most of the acid is absorbed quite easily, it can be harsh for skins with damaged barrier.

The toner has 7% of glycolic acid and 7% is not a small percentage. So this toner can not be classified as gentle for sensitive skin and can cause extremely dry skin.

#3 the ordinary skincare product to avoid if you have sensitive skin: Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone

I know, I know! Vitamin C is the darling of the skincare industry. But that does not mean it won’t irritate your skin, right?

I am sure you are aware of the fact that vitamin C is an acid, quite a strong one. And any acid has its own down points.

The most common form of vitamin C used in skincare products is l-ascorbic acid which is very unstable and reacts with the air. “Yeah I know but I have it in a darker bottle”, what if I tell you it can even react with air while it’s right on your skin? Surprised?

The vitamin C a.k.a l-ascorbic acid can undergo oxidations while sitting on your skin surface. This process forms hydronium ions on the top most layer of the skin and can cause skin irritation.

That is why it is important to stabilize the formulation.

It was found in studies that vitamin C works well when it’s combined with vitamin E or ferulic acid as the formulation gets stabilized.

As I mentioned before vitamin C is a strong acid, thus needs a low pH to penetrate the skin. Now, a more acidic skin surface means more compromised acid mantle of the skin which can cause dry, pale skin appearance. Thus for sensitive skin, which is already suffering from a damaged barrier, a lower percentage of vitamin C is preferred. And for super sensitive skin, it’s better to stick with a vitamin C percentage below 5.

But the vitamin C suspension from TO I am talking about uses a higher percentage of l-ascorbic acid (30%) which can cause irritation to sensitive skin. It might work well for someone who has oily skin but for a reactive skin: BIG NO! Also, it doesn’t have vitamin E or ferulic acid to ensure formulation stability.

the ordinary skincare for sensitive skin: The percentage of vitamin C is too high for sensitive or rosacea skin
The percentage of vitamin C is too high (30%) for sensitive or rosacea skin

If you read the ingredient list properly, you will see they have used silicones in this product. I personally have no problems with silicones. But silicones are not the best choice for acne-prone skin. So if you have sensitive acne-prone skin, run from this product!

The TO has another vitamin C product, Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, which also has quite a higher percentage of vitamin C (23%) for sensitive skin and should be avoided.

The ordinary product to avoid : This product also has a higher percentage of vitamin C which can damage the sensitive skin
This product also has a higher percentage of vitamin C which can damage the sensitive skin

#4 the ordinary skincare product to avoid if you have sensitive skin: Lactic Acid 10% + Hyaluronic Acid 2%

Lactic acid is considered one of the gentlest AHAs and derived from milk usually.

Due to their larger molecular size and gradual penetration on the skin, some beauty gurus do suggest it for sensitive skin as an alternative of glycolic acid. But it is not true!

When I started my skincare journey, I fell into this trap (cause I didn’t have the ordinary product guide and nobody warned me!). Though I have sensitive skin I bought the 5% lactic acid from TO thinking that it will not irritate my skin like glycolic acid. But I was wrong. Instead of making my skin better, it was tingling while applying and my skin became dry afterward. So I had to stop.

the ordinary skincare for sensitive skin: Lactic acid should be avoided for sensitive skin and this the ordinary product guide explains why
Lactic acid is an AHA which should be avoided for sensitive skin and the percentage of this particular product is quite as well

That is why I am saying the lactic acid 10% + hyaluronic acid 2% from TO is not necessary for you if your skin suffers from sensitivity. Cause the percentage of lactic acid (10%) is quite harsh for sensitive skin. Therefore this ordinary product can be strong for rosacea skin too.

However, if you are really into chemical exfoliation and want to do it really bad: skip the AHAs and go for Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs). What are those? We will talk about it some other day (wink wink!).

#5 the ordinary skincare product to avoid, yes the last one in the ordinary product guide: Retinol 1% in Squalane

the ordinary skincare for sensitive skin: Retinol 1% can make sensitive or rosacea skin dry and flaky
Retinol 1% in Squalane can make sensitive or rosacea skin dry and flaky

Okay, I must confess. This one is coming from personal experience.

Retinol is a specific form of vitamin A and helps to reduce the sign of aging, wrinkles, and acne as well. It increases the cell division on the lowest layer of the skin. As a result, more new skin cells appear on the top layer and you get glowing skin.

As retinol produces new skin cells quite rapidly, the skin cells don’t get the chance for better natural production of lipids, resulting in dry, flaky skin. Thus a higher percentage or frequent usage of retinol can damage the skin’s natural barrier function. And for sensitive skin, this is not good news.

In spite of having so many advantages, a pure form of retinol can be harsh to sensitive skin. And can cause irritation, redness, and peeling. Hence this specific the ordinary skincare product is damaging for sensitive skin.

On top of that, the percentage of this retinol product from TO is quite high (1%) for sensitive skin.

I bought this product cause of so many good reviews, but my skin was peeling very bad for one week.

So what I did: I started mixing the retinol with moisturizer and used it only 2 days a week. The peeling got better but I would still not recommend this for people with sensitive skin.

If you really want to use vitamin A in your skincare routine, go for retinal or retinaldehyde which is milder version and doesn’t cause irritation. You can also use a plant-based retinol alternative named bakuchiol.

To wrap up…

I agree that the ordinary has a wide range of unique products and their intention is to make skincare affordable to everyone. I really appreciate that. But some of the ordinary skincare products are too harsh for rosacea or sensitive skin. But now you have your the ordinary product guide. So be careful to include these products in your skincare shelf.

Want to learn more?

If you are into natural skin care, you can check my article about doing a DIY spa facial at home in 7 easy steps here.

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  1. Dresden

    PERFECT! A very accurate description of what to avoid. My dermatologist concurrs with this advice – not because I have rosacea prone skin but because I have an oily acne prone sensitive skin that is a 4 on the Fitzpatrick scale, meaning I could have a tendency to have PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation). These are exactly the ingredients I have been adviced to steer clear off!
    This is incredible! After A LONG time I am reading a well rounded and reasoned article on skincare!
    Well-done!! 🙂 And thank you 🙂

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